Arnold Abbott came to Stranahan Park to feed the homeless and left in the back of a police car. The Fort Lauderdale resident was in violation of a controversial ordinance, officially passed Oct 22, which is one of several pieces of legislature that aim to address the issue of homelessness.
The new laws in place have issued health and safety restriction that include the prohibition of the distribution of food outdoors without the permission of the owner. This is an issue for organizations that work in public spaces such as the park or beach, where obtaining permission is difficult.
Abbott is the founder of the Love Thy Neighbor group, which is responsible for feeding hundreds of individuals.
He was arrested Nov. 2, followed by two more arrests of people who continue to feed the homeless in public areas. Abbott could potentially pay a $500 fine and serve 60 days in jail for each documented occurrence.
The incident has garnered media attention and brought attention to the changes in legislature that some argue have criminalized homelessness, as opposed to attempting to correctly address it.
“My parents have bought extra meals to give to people asking for money on the street,” first-year Gabriella Elmir said “As long as those feeding are being responsible and safe it should be allowed.I don’t think it should be illegal to feed the homeless.”
Fort Lauderdale is reportedly one of 21 cities that have banned food sharing, in some capacity, in the United States. These acts of legislature have all worked to address the issue of homelessness by placing limitations on food sharing.
“I think that’s honestly a disgustingly law to have passed and I don’t see how it could possibly hold up in court, it’s completely immoral and selfish because we all know the aim of it isn’t actually to starve them, just to run them out of the city and that’s honestly such a disgusting way to do it,” first-year Julien Baruch said. “They’re people, not pests.”